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The Art Of Cryptic Communication


I had been told by a lot many people that there were going to be wars at home. Verbal wars, attitude wars and what have you. Many (know-it-all well wishers, of course) had assured me and many still continue to assure me that those said wars will happen in a couple of years.

There’s a load of people out there, expecting that The Nutty Siblings and I would not just be stepping on each others’ toes but would rather be seen dancing on each others’ feet. Sorry to disappoint the aforesaid folks (they were well meaning, I’m sure), but the said dance has not happened yet. There seem to be no visible signs of the same happening any time in the near future, either.

That said, I have to say that communicating with kids get rather interesting once they move on to double figures, in terms of their chronological age. One would think it gets easier, communicating with kids as they grow up. Well, in a way, it is. Easy because they believe in using limited vocabulary.

Looking at it from a parent’s point of view, I would say they do parents a lot of good. They increase a parent’s imaginative power, they add “as yet unheard of” vocabulary to a parent’s dictionary, they work on increasing a parent’s fitness by getting them to work their facial muscles as never before done and they make parents teach themselves methods in self-preservation of sanity. Kids, ten and above, can be so effectively prolific in their communicative abilities that it simply leaves parents speechless, many a times.

The teen world, especially, seems to go into these phases, at times (fortunately, not all the time) wherein they sincerely believe that the words “HUH ??!!” and “REALLY ??” are more than sufficient, in their inexhaustible linguistic repertoire, to carry on what they deem, is an active two way communication with just about anyone.

Take Macadamia, for instance. We went through a phase, not very long ago, when her answer to any and every question that was thrown at her, would be “HUH ???!!!”. I once tried saying to her “Hey ! Did you hear ? They just transplanted a pig’s head onto a human body and the patient is doing just fine.” All I got from her was a “HUH ???!!!”. Just that one word.

That one word has capacities beyond one’s imagination. But hold on. It is not just that word HUH what works its magic. It goes hand in hand with what we have, by now, named “The Look”. I will try my best, using my limited parental vocabulary, to describe “The Look”.

The Look is a rather potent, lethal blend of “glazed over” eyes with slightly drooping eyelids. It is accompanied by lips that are either pursed together or stretched at the ends, giving out an aura of tediousness (don’t get me wrong – I am SO not talking about a smile here) and The Look would be more or less complete with eyebrows that would be raised about as high as they can go. A wee bit higher and they would be fused to the hairline!! “The Look” makes you feel right on top of the world, because apparently that’s where self-made dummies are usually found. 🙂

Things which used to have a name when they were growing up, are now called “thingy”, “thingies”, “thingamajigs” or “thingamabobs”. As their gaze flits from one object to another, you are left standing there trying to decide if they were referring to something inside the house, something across the window in the neighbor’s living room or something on Earth or something from Outer Space, as the “thingamajigs” or “thingamabobs”. Your head spins like a planet probably would, if it were to go awry from its given orbit and doesn’t quite know where to go or what to do.

“I’m like in the bus going to schoooaaa and she like texts me about this Science thingamajig test thingy which is like sometime tomorrow. Doofus !! Sheesh !! Oh Fine and I’m like … Whatever”. That was an example of a sentence that could probably be thrown at you when you are neck deep in something really important. When something like that happens, I look like the proverbial deer that is caught in the headlights.

By the time The Nutty Siblings are done speaking those sentences that sound progressively like some alien language, I’m usually found reeling someplace in the house, trying my best to look normal and retain my composure, attempting to figure out what had actually been said. By the time my brain actually comprehends what they’ve said and by the time I formulate an appropriate response in a more human language, the siblings would have moved on to something else altogether, leaving me gaping and gasping like a fish out of water.

Wonder why Google has not thought of this one. Parents should have some sort of a translator and Google Translate should have a TeenGage translator, to make lives easier on parents. Evolution is supposed to be making us more efficient, atleast in theory. So how about parents having some such translator inbuilt ? It would basic comprehension a lot faster, to begin with. It would not be tomorrow by the time parents figure out what the kids had said two days back.

Also, given the fact that I’ve just been talking about spoken language here and that I’ve not even as much as approached the SMS / Whatsapp territory, I am feeling suitably mild mannered right now. Once I foray into the SMS / Whatsapp messaging terminologies, I turn into a different person altogether. Not a very nice person to be with, truth be told, when it comes to decoding those. 🙂

There is an ancient proverb from the Apocrypha that says “A truly wise person uses few words”. Kids, as they grow up, seem to be taking that proverb a bit too much to heart and putting it into practice too !!

Gauri Venkitaraman dons many hats – a wife, a mom, a teacher and many more. Working as a full-time English teacher in HongKong, Gauri also raises and nurtures two terrors, affectionately known as The Nutty Siblings a.k.a Macadamia, a teen and Pecan, the ten-year old who behaves like he is fifteen. Gauri’s family means the world to her. Life is a lively roller coaster ride and we, as a family, aim to enjoy the ride together. is where Gauri pens down her thoughts and musings, in an attempt to preserve memories for posterity.